On a whim this morning I decided to sand and repaint a little side table I use every day. It was in need of a quick freshen up as it had began to look like something Paddington bear has been using. Easy little job, just sand it, clean it off then apply a fresh coat of chalk paint. Obstacle number 1 the chalk paint has gone hard. Having got the bit between my teeth I decided to use emulsion. Obstacle number 2, enter the large tin that has not been opened for couple of years. Then ensued a battle that many of you DIYers out there will be familiar with, getting the tin open. Having tried unsuccessfully for 15 minutes to prize it off I resorted to giving it a gentle bash on the floor which I did with caution as in the past I have had the lid come off and the tin vomit its content all over the floor. Still no movement.
As an artist I often have to deal with stuck lids and a quick emersion in hot water usually works so I decided to try this. I boiled water lay the tin in the sink on its side and poured the water round the rim then I turned the tin Poured more hot water over it upright and began to prize the lid off. The tin had a more spectacular show in mind and explosively blew the lid off sending it across the kitchen splashing the paint collected in the rim all over me, the floor, my hob and units. Jackson would have been delighted!
Well hello 2020, so far Australia seems to be on fire, south Africa in the grip of drought and famine, Jakarta is flooded, Harry and Megan have resigned and we are told by those who are really paying attention (unfortunately not the ones who should be) that we have ten years to get our act together or we are doomed to fry drown or starve before the end of the century if not before.
In the light of all that I thought I would share some of the good things that have happened for me last year starting with my lovely Garden.
I live in Elmer, by the sea, and sometimes I forget what a lovely place it is to be especially when harsh salt winds blow in to scorch my garden plants, but this beautiful September morning I took a walk to see the progress on the improvements being made to our sea defences. There are some lovely old Groynes washed by the sea but as I suspect some of them will disappear under more rocks I decided to do a photo sweep before that happens. I won’t say any more but let the images speak for themselves.
This painting in oils which is 70×70 cm on box canvas started as a wild sketch but as I worked on it in my studio I was afraid of losing the wildness. I find most paintings end up as a compromise between what one sets out to do and what one is able to do. I’m sure I could go on working on it but feel to do so would end up with what I call knitting where all freedom has been lost, not that I have anything against kitting, just not in a painting. No doubt I will see things that need tweaking as it hangs around my studio though.
Today I returned to this painting started plein aire in my garden about a week ago. Went at it with paint sticks in the first session but used a more careful approach this time. I didn’t want to lose the freedom though so tried to to keep it loose whilst giving some structure to the plants.. I worked all day until the wet paint prevented my from continuing. I used alkyd oil paints which dry overnight so it should be ready to work on again tomorrow.
At last I have managed to get down to work in my studio again. This is stage two of this one. I have used lovely Prussian blue for the background and as I’m using alkyd paints it shouldn’t be too long before I can add the gold stars with my new paint stick. There are other things to add on the figure too.
My garden is a peaceful therapeutic haven where I can sit with a coffee early in the morning to watch the bees wake up and get ready for another day. I miss it in the winter but try to go out as long as I can until its too cold to sit out. Through the dull months the memory those bright buzzing mornings carries me through the times when my studio is really too cold to think of heating economically without destroying the planet.
About 20 years ago I bought many large tubes of oil paint on offer in a sale and as I can’t resist a bargain I greedily snapped them up. Sad to say they have lain cluttering up three drawers in my little studio. It’s not that I don’t like oils, just the damaging fumes and the mess, also I moved to acrylics and water based oil paint. Now I have discovered an odourless thinners, bought a large can (it really does have no fumes), as its summer and I can throw all the doors and windows open the time has come to use the languishing paints. I have started three works the last few days and this Harlequin jumping for joy is the latest.